Russell Finsterwald has been enjoying a good gravel season in 2022, having won Rule of Three earlier in the year, and racking up numerous top results in Life Time Grand Prix series events to sit in fifth place overall heading into the final race, Big Sugar, later this month.
At SBT GRVL in August, VeloNews got the chance to take a closer look at Finsterwald’s Specialized Crux, a lightweight cyclocross model also marketed for gravel that he turns to for events like SBT.
It’s built up with a mixture of Shimano GRX Di2 and Dura-Ace parts for the drivetrain, as well as Roval wheels and a host of Specialized components. And there are some pro tricks that any gravel racer or even regular rider could learn from.
As a rider for Specialized Off-Road, Finsterwald has no shortage of components from Specialized on his Crux. The wheels are from Roval, and he uses a Shimano GRX Di2 groupset.
Instead of a GRX crank, Finsterwald was using a Dura-Ace model with compact 50/34T chainrings for SBT GRVL. It was paired up with an 11-34T cassette.
Taped to the brake housing, these tire plugs are within easy reach for fixing leaks.
Other essentials are not far off either, stashed in this Evoc bento box.
For the relatively tame gravel sectors of SBT GRVL, Finsterwald went with thinner tires: Specialized Pathfinder Pros in 32mm. He ran 48 psi front and rear.
Finsterwald hasn’t strayed too far from mountain biking. He raced the Leadville Trail 100 the day before SBT GRVL, making him part of the LeadBoat Challenge.
Specialized bottle cages get the job done.
Easton EC70 Aero bars measuring 40mm wide provide some extra aerodynamic advantage, crucial for those 100+ mile races. Specialized provides a 130mm S-Works stem to complete the cockpit.
This Specialized Phenom saddle with titanium rails is attached to an Easton EC70 seat post. Gravel pros have to be self sufficient, so Finsterwald keeps a flat kit under his saddle.
A Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt provides Finsterwald with all the essential data.
Finsterwald had a run in with some tall grass this race.